Klipsch R-15PM Active Speakers
Unless you have been living under a rock, it would be pretty hard not to have stumbled across the name Klipsch. The brand has well and truly established 'legendary' status amongst the audio community in part thanks to their world renowned ‘Klipschorn’ and have also expanded that into the mainstream consumer audio market through various headphones and portable speakers.
What you may not know is that Klipsch was founded by Paul Wilbur Klipsch in 1946. Paul originally began hand building his speakers out of a small tin shed in Hope, Arkansas. That shed has since become a factory producing cabinets for Klipsch speakers.
Paul always followed four principles when designing his speakers;
- High Efficiency
- Low Distortion
- Controlled Directivity
- Flat Frequency Response
He has been quoted as saying "My theories on audio and audio reproduction will be proven wrong only when the laws of physics change."
In Australia, Klipsch products are distributed through Powermove. The subject of this review are the Klipsch R-15PM Active Standmount speakers, which currently retail locally for $1399.
This is where things get really interesting. Not content with being yet another 'me too' product, the R-15PM speakers are equipped with an impressive number of connectivity options.
Bluetooth? Check. 3.5mm Aux/Analog in? You bet. Wait though, what's that? You want to connect direct from a computer? OK, well that Type B USB input will be handy, especially with it supporting up to 24/96 sample rates.
Hang on though, you want to also connect from your flatscreen TV without the need for a separate DAC? An optical input ticks that box too.
Don't feel as though these standmount speakers deliver enough bass for you? Well, it’s a good thing that subwoofer pre-out is there!
Now THIS is where the R-15PM’s are really different. So, you just bought yourself a new turntable, but don't have the space for an external phono stage? Well guess what? These Klipsch monitors even have that base covered.
It actually hard to believe Klipsch have managed to jam so much into a single package, yet they have.
Unboxing & Setup
Unpacking the R-15PM's was straightforward. One speaker acts as the master, featuring all the connectivity, the other the slave.
They are connected together via standard speaker cable which can be upgraded should you wish, as the R-15PM’s utilise traditional speaker binding posts (not spring clips). For the duration of the review however, I used the supplied cable.
The finish looks much how you would expect a speaker at this price point to look, a vinyl wrap affair, but a smart looking one and featuring a version of Klipsch’s traditional horn tweeter and copper orange mid-bass driver.
Initially, I had setup the active monitor on the left (as this better suited my setup) before realising (thanks to the trusty manual which I probably should have read earlier) that it had to be dedicated as the right speaker.
This was a touch unfortunate and perhaps a slight oversight from Klipsch as my laptop (and many others) with which I use as my digital music hub had all its USB outputs on the left side, meaning I had to twist and bend my USB cable to suit. Perhaps a user selectable switch to toggle between left or right designation would have been appropriate.
Continuing on, I set the active monitor up on the right, connected the slave via the supplied speaker cable and powered the units up.
My initial listening was done using Audirvana Plus via my Mid-2010 MacBook Pro connected up with my Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 USB cable and Audioquest Jitterbug.
I played back a number of familiar files from my 'High Fidelity' Tidal playlist.
Compared to my usual Vincent/ELAC combination, there was a noticeable dip in dynamics and detail and the midrange felt a touch recessed, almost hollow.
Tracks I've listened to countless times such as Jack Savoretti's 'Soldier's Eyes', Noah Gundersen's 'Day Is Gone' and Bob Dylan's 'Man In The Long Black Coat' highlighted this.
For example, the harmonica passage in the intro of the latter didn't vanish into the room like it typically would on a better sounding system.
The reality is though that the R-15PM's retail for around a sixth of the price of my usual setup.
Toslink or not Toslink, ‘tis the Question
Due to my disappointment with the performance from USB I decided out of sheer curiosity to connect my MacBook Pro again, but this time using its optical (headphone) output.
Using a Toslink - 3.5mm adapter and a spare 1.8m Belkin optical cable I had laying about, I connected again to the R-15PM's.
What a surprising turn of events indeed! The same tracks played via optical sounded substantially better than via USB. This made me realise that optical was the superior physical digital input.
In fact, this quickly became my preferred connection method. It also highlighted that the integrated DAC was a decent one.
Particularly listening back to 'Day Is Gone' by Noah Gundersen. Wow, his vocal just came out and slapped me in the face. Excellent projection!
Lover of Hi-Fi, Music and Recording Engineering. I particularly like the affordable and value-packed products; finding that diamond in the rough.
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